The Ottawa-area teenager and huge Senators fan Jonathan Pitre, known as the ‘Butterfly Boy’ because of the rare skin condition he suffered from, has passed away. He was just 17 years old.
Pitre died in hospital in Minnesota on Wednesday evening. His mother, Tina Boileau, informed TSN’s James Duthie on Thursday morning to break the news that her son had passed. Duthie shared the tragic news on an Instagram post.
“Jonathan was the most courageous young man I’ve ever met,” Duthie wrote on Instagram with a lovely picture of he and Jonathan. “He had the toughest life imagineable, [sic] and yet always saw the positive in it...always found hope through endless pain. His disease gave him a purpose...to help educate, and help other kids with EB. This is my favourite pic with Jonny. It was the first night I met him in person. We had heard he wanted to be a sportscaster, so he came down to TSN and joined the panel for a night. And he was a natural. Jonny was an old soul. So smart, so kind, so brave. He loved sports, loved The Flash, loved reading, especially science fiction, adored his dog Gibson. Keep his incredible Mom Tina and the rest of his family in your hearts."
Pitre was born with epidermolysis bullosa (EB), a painful and incurable genetic disorder that caused his delicate skin to easily tear and blister. He spent most of his life undergoing operations and treatments, including an experimental stem cell transfusion at the University of Minnesota, to improve his quality of life. Back in October, it was reported that he was improving and had been discharged from the hospital in Minnesota, Minn.
The Senators and the NHL often mentioned how inspired they were by Pitre. The Sens often visited the 17-year-old teenager before games against the Minnesota Wild, and also invited Pitre as a special guest in the past seasons to local games in Ottawa when he was well enough to travel. Pitre never stopped watching the Senators in the hospital as he was receiving treatments.
"We've been watching every single game from our hospital room," his mother once said to CBC. "It's given him the strength to carry on. He watches the game and it just primes him."
“I can’t imagine my life without him,” his poor mother said through tears Thursday.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone touched by Jonathan in their lives. He was such an inspiration and will continue to be forever. Rest in peace, Jonathan. You will never be forgotten.